Expanding the potential of wireless broadband services in the US using the 3.65GHz band
operators with a license are required to registertheir base station locations with the ULS (UniversalLicensing System) prior to deployment, and toappropriately coordinate operations to minimizeinterference. Operators that deploy first in a givenarea do not enjoy any first-to-market advantageover operators coming on later. They are allrequired to collaborate to find a solution thatenables multiple operators to coexist.Furthermore, base station registration allows newentrants in a market to evaluate spectrumavailability—as well as market potential—based onthe base stations already installed. This may turnout to be the most effective tool in preventingspectrum (and market) overcrowding. In mostmarkets, there is effectively room for only one ortwo operators to roll out services profitably in theband. In this sense, early operators enjoy asubstantial advantage and may effectively stopothers from entering the market, unless they arenot successful at attracting or retaining customers.The adoption of a contention protocol to manageinterference has attracted a lot of criticism fromoperators and vendors alike, especially as the FCCinitially had not defined what the contentionprotocol was. In 2007, the FCC issued aclarification that opened the door to equipmentcertification, but there is still considerableuncertainty about which contention protocols willbe allowed by the FCC.The FCC has defined two types. A restrictedcontention protocol manages interference amongdevices using the same wireless interface. WiMAXqualifies as implementing a restricted contentionprotocol, as multiple subscriber devices cancoexist within the same network, and multiplenetworks can coordinate operations to minimizeinterference. All products certified by the FCC todate support restricted contention protocols.Unrestricted contention protocols work acrossmultiple wireless air interfaces. The FCC definessuch a protocol as one that “can avoid co-frequency interference with devices using all othertypes of contention-based protocols.”
Key licensing provisions for the 3.65GHz band
Restricted contention protocol: 3.65-3.675 GHz.Unrestricted contention protocol: 3.65-3.7 GHz.
Time Division Duplexing (TDD).
None fixed. Operator can decide channelbandwidth.
Base station and outdoor subscriberdevice (fixed): 25 Watts per 25MHzchannel, with 1 Watt per MHz of bandwidth used.Subscriber device, indoor (“mobiledevice,” in FCC terminology): 1 Watt per25MHz channel.
FCC certification ensures that basestations and subscriber equipmentimplement an approved contentionprotocol.
All national territory with the exclusion of areas surrounding about 100grandfathered earth satellite stations(150km radius) and the federalgovernment’s radiolocation stations(80km radius), unless satellite operatorsor the federal government givepermission to operators to deploy basestations in the area. As a result, 3.65GHzcoverage is not allowed in many East andWest Coast urban areas.
Operators need to obtain a nonexclusive,nationwide license first. Each basestation deployed has to be registered inthe ULS database to facilitate cooperationamong operators active in the same area.
Table 2. Key licensing provisions for the 3.65GHz band
The “listen-before-you-talk” protocol used by Wi-Fi is the most commonly cited example of anunrestricted contention protocol. While a listen-before-you-talk protocol can limit the impact of interference, it carries significant overheadrequirements that can dramatically affect the
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